Singer and songwriter Sam Beam became one of the leading voices of the indie folk scene in the 2000s with his work under the name Iron & Wine. Beam was born in Columbia, South Carolina on July 26, 1974; his mother was a schoolteacher and his father worked in land management. Beam received a B.A. in art from Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to earn a Master of Fine Art in film from Florida State University. Beam was teaching filmmaking and cinematography in Miami when a friend lent him a four-track cassette machine, and he began recording songs he'd been writing for several years. Beam began passing cassettes of his work to his friends, including one to Michael Bridwell, brother of Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. Bridwell liked it enough to give a copy to music writer and 'zine publisher Mike McGonigal. In 2000, McGonigal included Beam's song "Dead Man's Will" on a CD compilation included with the first issue of his magazine Yeti. Beam used the name Iron & Wine for the track, taken from an antique bottle of "Beef, Iron & Wine Tonic" he found while searching for props for a film. After Iron & Wine began earning a buzz in the indie folk underground, Beam's music came to the attention of Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop Records. Poneman signed Iron & Wine to his label, and Beam's self-recorded debut, The Creek Drank the Cradle, was released in 2002.